Keith's Crappy Videogame Blog

Chaser (PC, Slovakia, 2003): Infinite Meh
August 17, 2010, 12:54 am
Filed under: Chaser (PC, 2003, Slovakia), Slovakia)

“Chaser” is a (better-known-than-most) eastern European game that feels like it will never end. I’m a tortoise in the gaming department (and here I am playing this game a mere 7 years after its release—yikes), but I logged in at least 30 hours finishing this opus. Unlike some of the other bottom-shelf, infinitely-long, non-domestic titles I’ve played however, the massive duration of this shooter didn’t excite me too much. Given the time period when it was produced, the graphics generally don’t look as dated as I thought they might (most of the static interiors, lighting effects, textures, colors are fine). But the character models and animations have not aged well at all (I mean, at all).

You play as (gasp!) Chaser, an amnesiac tracking a shadowy man named Scott Stone–from an exploding space station to New York slums and the Russian Tundra on near-future-Earth and back to a prison and hi-tech rebel base on Mars–just to regain his memory (fractured pieces of which are revealed as the story, and his journey, progresses). Further surprise, the narrative becomes so convoluted and double-crossey with so many sketchily drawn characters it’s difficult to know or care who is who and why the action is taking place. SPOILER: The game ends on a negative note–you, as Chaser, are told by your nemesis that you actually ARE Scott Stone (no!), the same man you’ve been chasing after all this time. You are then tricked into killing a rebel colleague who has been assisting you, and then you too are shot and dragged off screen, with nothing but a quizzical look plastered on your face (which looks dumb—I already said the character models were poor). The ending stinks of an impending sequel, but here we are 7 years after the game released. I don’t think Chaser 2 is in the offing. No big loss, I guess. SPOILER END.

The many environments–from the aforementioned space station, to Earth slums, to Russia’s tundra, to  hazy-red prison hallways on Mars—are varied, but like I said, it’s all a bit too mundane. It’s not weird or scary or alien enough. It’s too near-future and not enough far-future, I guess. This is just a matter of taste. All the weapons are conventional–nothing neato or lazer beamy or whatever. It’s more like a tactical espionage shooter than it is a sci-fi thing. My reaction to it is the same as I had playing “Rainbow 6: Vegas” a few years back in cooperative mode: I played it because it was cooperative, but shooting terrorists hanging around slot machines or thugs in hotels or mercenaries in warehouses just ain’t my thang. Give me a big, gooey scary something in deep space to shoot, and I’m on board—even if it’s been done 4 million times before. I don’t care. But there’s just nothing like that in “Chaser.”

As a shooter from 2003, it was very well received, especially online multiplayer; but by today’s standards, the single player campaign just feels like a…standard linear shooter, and taken in the context of 7 years ago as of this writing, forgiveness is required. Other than a stealth mission or two, the sneak-n-stop-n-shoot gameplay gets repetitive and a bit dull, with little variety in enemies. Nice variety of weapons, though as mentioned nothing cool and futuristic (although as a reader of this blog, googoogjoob, points out, you do eventually procure some lazery-type weapons about halfway through; they didn’t make much of an impression on me though). The one letdown overall: Though it began explosively on a quickly-deteriorating space station (very strong intro gameplay for about an hour which had me all excited), most of the following locales are ho-hum, near-future Earth settings (read: dull), the Mars prison chapter notwithstanding (as googoogjoob also points out).

Final note: Although it is a straightforward FPS, it’s not necessarily an easy game to play. I am not ashamed to say I began the game on “normal” difficulty setting, but it was kicking my arse (“game over” every 4 minutes gets tiresome); 5 hours later, I dumbed it down to “easy” to regain some balance. So I don’t beat myself up too much, some of this difficulty curve comes from using a gamepad (360 controller with a wireless Windows receiver) to play a PC game meant to be navigated with the precision of a mouse. But I like slouching on my couch to play, not hunched over my laptop. Sue me.

10 Comments so far
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Chaser is a Slovak game. It’s made by Cauldron.

Comment by fallouterin

Thanks for the correction. You are right again! This is another one of my older posts that I moved over to this site and it may not be completely accurate. I made the proper changes.

Comment by wkduffy

I played this title 3 years ago. Very hard in some parts, however, its ambientation and sound schemes likes me. I can’t say the ending is something memorable, at least for me, the Chaser’s ending is the worse I’ve seen so far. Despite it all, it is a good game.

Comment by sonic

“Nice variety of weapons, though as mentioned nothing cool and futuristic. The one letdown overall: Though it began explosively on a quickly-deteriorating space station (very strong intro gameplay for about an hour which had me all excited), most of the following locales are ho-hum, near-future Earth settings (read: dull).”

halfway through the game, you get a totally new arsenal of laser-based weapons and are transported to mars, so i’m assuming this review is based on an incomplete playthrough

Comment by googoogjoob (@googoogjoob42)

googoogjoob: Thanks for reminding me of the Mars chapter (though it really is just prison hallways and catwalks painted red, right?). No. I play everything all the way through always; it’s a pact I have with myself which has provided me with plenty of ulcers. I’ve even fallen asleep while playing some things. The only real game that I actually couldn’t make to the end so far was Breed, and that was due to technical problems I simply couldn’t overcome. I’ll put a editorial note in the review about the Mars chapter. So, thanks. As far as the weapons go, it might be my bad–I don’t remember getting any cool weapons because all of them felt similar and seemed to do similar damage…so I probably just ran around with the same assault rifle in my clutches the entire time. BTW, I would’ve played a sequel…if only to better understand the ending.

Comment by wkduffy

actually- you keep all the laser sci-fi weapons for the entire last half-to-third of the game… but they’re basically all just stand-ins for the earthly weaponry you’ve been using up to that point, so there’s not a ton of difference in practice.

Comment by googoogjoob (@googoogjoob42)

also also, the ending is kind of the worst/most depressing ending ever

you unwittingly lead the evil megacorp to the resistance’s base, and the megacorp kills every remaining resistance member

then they kill you, the end.

also also also: apparently chaser was really big in eastern europe, like as big and influential as half-life 2 was in the west, and the multiplayer is still active more than ten years on from release, even though it’s actually a profoundly mediocre game

Comment by googoogjoob (@googoogjoob42)

Great thoughts on a shoddy game. I’m going to revisit it because of your review.

Comment by brandonchovey

Brandon: Thanks for reading. I looked over your review of Oxenfree too, which is on my wishlist (and, like you, also not the kind of game I’d normally play). Don’t be surprised if you find Chaser is just as bad as you originally thought it was!

Comment by wkduffy

Keith, I did some promoting of your blog on my own. I just reviewed Exodus Of The Earth. Thanks for writing about these types of games.

Comment by brandonchovey

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